Maggie Rogers

maggierogersMaggie Rogers
Heard It in a Past Life
by David Chiu
Photo credit: Olivia Bee

Twenty-four-year-old singer-songwriter Maggie Rogers has been the “it” musician ever since the now-famous viral video of her presenting her song “Alaska” to Pharrell Williams as part of a masterclass at New York University where she attended at the time. It’s been an emotional roller coaster ride for the artist who has garnered such major attention in a short amount time with her 2017 EP Now That the Light Is Fading as well as appearances on the TV talk shows and major publications. Such hype over a new artist usually delivers mixed results, but Rogers is the exception based on her major label debut, the much-anticipated Heard It in a Past Life–she delivers on that promise. Drawing from a unique blend of hip-hop, soul, folk, electronic pop, dance and rock influences, Rogers’ new record is a diary of sorts referencing her whirlwind two-and-a-half years (she previewed the meaning behind those tracks on her Twitter leading up to the album release). Several of the album’s songs addressed those concerns and insecurities, like on the hypnotic “Overnight” and the anthemic and uptempo “Light On,” whose lyrics certainly hinted of her feeling overwhelmed (she sings: “Oh, I couldn’t stop it/ Tried to slow it all down/Crying in the bathroom/Had to figure it out/With everyone around me saying “You must be so happy now””). Aside from her coping with the attention, Heard It in a Past Life presents her navigating the trials and tribulations of life, whether it’s romance from the ’90s-sounding hip-hop homage of “Say It” and the swaying grooves of “On+Off;” or finding clarity within the self like on the aforementioned breakthrough hit “Alaska” and the urgent electropop sounds of Retrograde, the latter about experiencing an emotional crisis but also trying to come out of the darkness. One particular standout is the melancholic-sounding and soulful “Past Life,” which is unique because it’s the most organic-sounding song of all the tracks, a confessional piano ballad in the vein of Carole King and Joni Mitchell. While tacking such themes of vulnerability and uncertainty, the record is equally uplifitng with numbers that are quite empowering and hopeful, including “Burning,” which is about Rogers finding romantic love amid the craziness; the empathetic “Give a Little” (inspired by the national school walkout over guns); “The Knife,” an energetic and celebratory ode to dancing; and the fitting album-closing song “Back in My Body,” which conveys a sense that one can return home both literally and figuratively. Each of the tracks sparkles with catchy hooks, infectious grooves and state-of-the-art production. But the real standouts are Rogers’ expressive and soulful voice and her poetic lyricism in her words. Heard It in a Past Life confirms her arrival as a major star and more than justifies the attention.


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